5 Easy Ways to Start a Daily Gratitude Practice

In the push from Halloween to Christmas, sometimes we lose sight of one of the most important traditions in holiday celebration: pausing to be thankful. In her research on joy, Daring Greatly author Brené Brown noticed a connection she didn’t expect. People who were living joyful lives also followed a daily gratitude practice. What does that mean?

Practicing gratitude goes further than having an “attitude of gratitude”, though that’s a great place to begin. A gratitude practice means taking action or spending time purposefully reflecting on experiences, relationships, and things we are grateful for.

This year, as the holidays approach, make a point to pause and reflect on the moments you’re grateful for. Maybe for you, it’s that coffee date with a friend, or watching your favorite holiday movie. How can you reduce stress and celebrate gratitude along with your holiday traditions this year? Here are 5 easy ways to add a gratitude practice to your life.

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Start a journal and commit to writing in it every day. Set a time to do this, perhaps just before bed or in the morning when you first wake up. List three things you’re thankful for. If you prefer the tech approach, there are many apps like 3 Good Things or 5 Minute Journal to log in the things that you feel thankful for. Once you get into the habit, you may find days where it’s hard to limit yourself to just three!

2. Create a Gratitude Jar

Place a large vase or jar in a central area in your home alongside scraps of paper and a pen. Write down something you’re grateful for every day on a slip of paper and place it in the jar. Consider setting a time of day when you add something to the jar.

Also set a time of the month or season when you sit down and read the notes in the jar. Perhaps every Sunday evening, so that you go into a new workweek with a boost of gratitude. You can do this alone or with your family and perhaps read your “best moments” together during the year end holidays!

3. Take a Savoring Walk

Each day, take a “savoring walk”. Spend about twenty minutes walking outside. Let your mind slow down and notice the shapes of the trees, the sound of the wind, and the feel of the sun on your face. Pause to appreciate these things and acknowledge your gratitude for them.

4. Appreciate by Abstaining

There are many ways in which we live comfortable lives. We have food to eat, electricity, and internet access. We have access to books and media through stores and libraries.

One way to practice gratitude is to choose to abstain from a pleasurable experience for a period of time. You may try giving up sweets, your favorite store-bought latte, or try a social media detox for a period of time, such as a week or two.

Every time you miss the experience you’ve decided to go without, pause to reflect on the joy those items or experiences bring to your life and your gratitude for them.

5. Write a Gratitude Letter and Deliver It

We’ve all had experiences that meant something to us in the moment. These are times when someone else helped us or offered meaningful encouragement at just the right moment. Think of a time this has happened to you, and write the person who encouraged or helped you a note thanking them for their help. Let them know how much it means to you. It doesn’t have to be a long note. It doesn’t even have to be a physical card, though there’s something special about receiving a personal note in the mail. The point is to express gratitude with someone about a meaningful moment.

Share Gratitude, Joy, and Happiness with Your Loved Ones

Learn more ways to embrace gratitude by reading my book, 21 Days to Happiness. Each day of the 21-day journey identifies areas of our lives that contribute to our overall happiness and what we can do to start living happier lives today. Day 1 focuses specifically on gratitude practices and the impact gratitude has on our lives.